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Sega has always been good about making its Genesis games easily available. In recent years, we’ve had the excellent Sega Genesis Mini plug-and-play and the Sega Genesis Classics collection for modern platforms. I want to see the Master System get the same respect.
The Master System is Sega’s Genesis precursor. It’s an 8-bit machine, but it was a bit more powerful than the NES. While the Master System wasn’t a big hit in the U.S., it found success in places like Europe and Brazil. That encouraged Sega to keep making games for the platform well into the life of the Genesis. Some of these Master System games also came to the Game Gear, but they usually saw a hit to resolution on the portable hardware.
I want a way to play these Master System experiences without downloading ROMs. The console even includes some unique Sonic the Hedgehog games. They focus more on platforming and less on speed than their Genesis counterparts, but they’re still fun sidescrollers.
The Master System also has some great Disney games. Castle of Illusion, the Genesis hit, is also on the 8-bit machine. It’s not just a dumb-downed port, though. This is its own game, one that may be just as good as its 16-bit big brother. It also has a direct sequel on the Master System, Land of Illusion, that has no Genesis counterpart. Donald Duck also got his own duology of Master System sidescrollers, Lucky Dime Caper and Deep Duck Trouble, that you won’t find anywhere else (well, aside from on the Game Gear).
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Then you have original outings like Golden Axe Warrior. This isn’t a beat-’em-up, like most entries in the franchise. Warrior is a top-down adventure game in the Zelda mold. As far as Zelda clones go, many retro enthusiasts consider it one of the better ones. Popular Sega-centric YouTuber Sega Lord X listed it as his No. 3 favorite Master System game in this video.
Now, there are ways to play some Master System games on modern platforms. Some, like Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap and Alex Kidd in Miracle World, have received modern remakes. The original Phantasy Star has already come to Switch as part of the Sega Ages series.
But it’s not enough! I want a collection that just drowns me Master System games. I want to even want to play the games that have superior versions on Genesis, like Altered Beast and Road Rage. Why bother with them when I can just play the 16-bit takes, you ask? Curiosity! It must be satiated!
Now that I’m mad at myself for the amount of exclamation marks that I put into that last paragraph, I’m going to try to calm myself down. Look, Sega has a great history that extends beyond the Genesis. I hope it recognizes that soon.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.
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